FBI statistics released last week show that the number of marijuana arrests in the United States, after rising slightly in 2014, fell by 8 percent last year, reaching the lowest level in two decades. The total was nevertheless more than twice the number in 1991, before a nationwide cannabis crackdown that peaked in 2007. The number of marijuana arrests has fallen more or less steadily since then, reflecting a growing consensus that cannabis consumers should not be treated as criminals.
The FBI’s numbers indicate that police across the country made 643,121 marijuana arrests in 2015, 26 percent fewer than the 2007 total of 872,720. As usual, the vast majority of pot arrests—almost nine out of 10—were for possession, as opposed to sale or cultivation. A 2006 analysis by the Sentencing Project’s Ryan King and Marc Mauer found that less than 6 percent of marijuana arrests lead to a felony conviction.